TAREE Leagues bowler Mark Pennings booked himself a berth in the State finals of the president's singles when winning the zone final played at Scone.
Pennings, who is only in his second full year of bowls, will now head to Etalong on October 22 where he'll meet the Zone Seven (South Coast) winner in the opening match of what is a knockout event. President's singles is for pennant players graded five and under. Pennings played No 5s for Leagues last season.
He defeated Aberdeen's Gerard Partridge in the zone final at a frosty Scone.
"There's a bit of a story there,'' Pennings said.
"I won the district president's singles here last year but I couldn't get to the zone. I was supposed to play Gerard in the opening round there, so he received the forfeit and was then beaten in the final.''
The zone takes in Manning, Hunter and Upper Hunter districts. The player who has to travel the furthest to the zone playoffs receives the first round bye and this year it was Pennings.
"Gerard won his district again this year and then won the first round at Scone, so we finally got to play,'' Pennings said.
The green was running a slow nine seconds. Pennings is notoriously tardy out of the blocks and Partridge jumped to a 12-1 lead.
However, Pennings always fancied his chances.
"Once I got the mat I realised he was struggling with the longer ends so I just hoiked it up there as far as I could,'' he said.
Pennings made up the leeway and eventually pulled away to score a comfortable 31-17 win.
Now he'll prepare for the State playoffs.
"The Zone Seven final will be played this weekend, so I'll know who my first round opponent is after that,'' he said.
Pennings has achieved much in a relatively short time on local bowling greens. He initially followed his son, Damien, into the sport and ironically beat him in the Leagues club minor singles final last year. He now has two district president's singles titles to his credit while with Damien and Robert Austin he'll line up in the semi-final of the club triples championship this weekend.
Pennings came into bowls via snooker and golf.
"I have trouble with my ankles and it just got to the stage where I couldn't play golf anymore,'' he said.
He was a single figure marker when he gave golf away.
Snooker, he said, gave him a good grounding for bowls.
"There's a lot of similarities between the two - particularly working out angles,'' he said.
Pennings says he plays bowls 'too much.'
"I play and practice as much as I can. To be honest I never really thought that bowls would be such an exciting sport, but it really is.''